U20 World Championship – Junior Boks Must Now Rally For England Clash


The Junior Springboks have their backs to the wall after the defeat to Argentina on a wet Thursday night in Stellenbosch and will have to win their remaining pool match with England next Tuesday and hope other results go their way to reach the World Rugby U20 Championship semi-finals.

Argentina downed the Junior Boks by 31-12, scoring five tries to two after the Pumitas successfully managed to keep the South Africans’ powerful set-piece in check.

The South Americans are now level on five points with South Africa in Pool C, five points behind leaders England (10 points), who beat Fiji 48-11 in the second round.

Argentina started the match at a fast tempo – just like they did when the sides met two months ago in Australia – and were 17-0 up after 22 minutes.

Although the Junior Boks started the second stanza better by gaining a penalty try, the Pumitas hit back with their fourth and fifth tries while SA could only score their second try right at the end of the match.

Junior Bok head coach Bafana Nhleko said afterwards Argentina deserved the win, made possible their fast start: “We didn’t start well, and we spoke about it earlier in the week, that they’re a team that chase a good start, and we fell away in that first 20 minutes. The sequence of the game was us on attack and losing the contact contest and them getting a lineout in our half, which sapped our energy.”

The loss means the Junior Boks must now go back to the drawing board, according to Nhleko: “The big thing is that we didn’t get going and maybe we fell into the trap when things were not going our way, but with a short turnaround, we can’t dwell too much on the loss – we need to rally for the next match.”

Nhleko was full of praise for the great support by the Stellenbosch crowd, who braved the cold and rain to get behind the team.

“We were down and out today, but we have to pitch up for the next one,” he said.

“There was an incredible crowd out there that stayed right until the end, in the rain, to support us and for that we’re grateful and sorry that we disappointed them with the performance.

“For us it’s about showing character now and give people a reason to come back and support us again.”

The Junior Boks’ final Pool C match is on Tuesday, 9 July, against England at Athlone Stadium, at 19:00  (SA Time).